This vibrant pictorial map of Melbourne, crafted in 1934 by John Power Studio for Wonder Maps of Melbourne.
Drawn in the style of famed-pictorial mapmaker Macdonald Gill, the map unfolds the city of Melbourne in panoramic view. City blocks are not just mundane shapes but structures brimming with life and energy. Much like Gill's work, the illustration teems with tiny figures that animate the cityscape, from pedestrians and cyclists navigating the streets to sailors aboard ships in Port Phillip Bay.
The heart of the city is teeming with iconic landmarks of Melbourne, such as the impressive dome of the State Library Victoria and the sprawling Royal Exhibition Building, each annotated with handwritten notes that possess the charm of personal correspondence. The Yarra River snakes through the map in a serpentine fashion, acting as a natural guide to the city's layout. The city’s green lungs, the Royal Botanic Gardens, are captured in their verdant glory, while the Melbourne Cricket Ground thrums with the activity of a match in progress.
Embellishing the map are numerous whimsical notes that add personality to the city’s portrayal, infusing the map with a unique blend of levity and charm. Text vignettes, popping from buildings and figures, hold clever quips and anecdotes about Melbourne’s life and culture in 1934. It's as though the city itself has turned into a chatty guide, eager to share its stories.
The map's border is uniquely Australian, decorated with an ornate pattern of gum leaves and gum nuts. The border also insets eight images, each with its own caption title. These images serve as historical vignettes, providing glimpses into Melbourne's past and its natural beauty. They depict scenes of local wildlife and activities such as 'Tree climbing', 'Fishing', 'Hunting opossum', and 'Hunting birds'. Others illustrate historically significant sites and events, like 'Capt. Lonsdales' Cottage', the 'First police station', and a 'Native burial'.
A striking yellow banner emblazons the lower left corner of the map, proudly declaring Melbourne's achievements in its 'Centenary Year'. It proclaims Melbourne's growing population and the city's meticulous urban planning, wide streets, and lovely gardens. This statement reveals Melbourne's pride in its growth and development, casting the city as an attractive destination for visitors.
In the center, an interesting feature awaits the viewer - a panel designed as an open book. The left page echoes the same statements found on the yellow banner about Melbourne's Centenary Year. The right page, however, remains blank, intended for autographs - perhaps as a keepsake for those who have visited and experienced Melbourne in its special centenary year.
Standing prominently on the year '1934' is a small figure, seemingly poised to leap into the city's bustling activity. The figure offers a sense of scale and injects a whimsical touch into the map's otherwise structured portrayal of the city.
The map is the brainchild of O. J. Dale, a creative talent who has deftly woven history, humor, and artistry into this representation of Melbourne. The final product was brought to life by Troedel & Cooper, their precise printing techniques ensuring every detail of Dale's vision is immaculately presented.
This pictorial map, therefore, isn't merely a tool for navigating the city. It's a charming memento of Melbourne's past, an ode to its Centenary Year, and an artistic masterpiece in its own right.